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Scrap the royal colleges’ fellowships

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 12 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1609

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Re: Scrap the royal colleges’ fellowships

I was sorry to hear that Des Spence is sartorially offended by the 'expensive polyester merchandising tat’ on offer to Fellows of the RCGP. I have to say that I am extremely proud of my College tie (at least 30% viscose, by the way) and my RCGP cufflinks!

Joking aside, as President of the RCGP and Chair of the College's Fellowship Committee, I feel I have to stand up for the thousands of 'ordinary' GPs who have worked hard to gain RCGP Fellowship and who value their award as a celebration of their achievements and recognition by their peers.

Far from giving them access to a £620-a-year elitist club, Fellowship is a way for the College to celebrate excellence in patient care by our Members, nationally and internationally. It is something to work and strive towards; an opportunity to showcase innovative or creative ideas for improving primary care, or simply a way of showing dedication to our noble profession.

It is also a celebration of the equality and diversity of modern general practice. As College President it is my role to oversee the Fellowship ceremonies, and listening to GPs about the work they do to improve patient care is one of the highlights of my position.

Far from being insecure, these are strong, ambitious individuals who are committed to their patients and to raising standards in primary care. The title of Fellow holds huge personal value for doctors, for the College and for patients. Why is Des Spence so vexed about taking this away?

Don't be so mean-spirited, Dr Spence. You are most welcome to come along to our next RCGP Fellowship ceremony, I guarantee you'll get a lot more out of it than a curled up cucumber sandwich!

Professor Mike Pringle CBE MD FMedSci FRCP PRCGP

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 March 2013
Professor Mike Pringle
Royal College of General Practitioners
30 Euston Square, London, NW1 2FB